The tea cup/pot lamp has been around for a few years now, the most popular from Anthropologie:
It's a great DIY project, and cheap made from thrift store items. (or so I thought)
Of course I had to buy tools and drill bits and electrical stuff and...and......
Enough of that. It was fun and I learned a few things along the way.
Here is a video of it in action:
If you really want it but can't complete the build yourself it's in my Etsy shop:
It's not that hard, just alot of steps.
The best cups to use are Fine China because they are translucent and can be lit with LEDs very easily.
Go to your local thrift store with a small flashlight and shine it through the cup.
If it's bright the cup is perfect, if not, it's not good for this project.
Make sure you have enough saucers for the cups. And look for a big bowl you can turn upside down for a base.
The bowl will not be lit, so it doesn't have to pass the light test.
Gather cups, saucers, bowl for base and the items in the picture above to complete the lamp:
LED strip lights (eBay's cheap)
9 position rotary wafer switch
Cable tie downs and small tie wraps
AC adapter - 12VDC (connector will be cut off)
1/2" PVC pipe
Lamp parts kit or enough parts to build a lamp:
Threaded rod and Hex nuts
2 wire cord for socket
Metal spacer to cover exposed threaded rod at the top
The foam shelf liner is to use as a light gasket if you notice leaking between the saucer and the cup below it.
I had to use it on my first lamp and not on this one.
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Step 1: Tools
Basic electronic tools:
Soldering Iron and Solder
PVC pipe cutter (optional but VERY handy)
1/2" diamond coated drill bit (12mm works too)
Step 2: Drilling Cups Bowls and Saucers
Before drilling you need to find the centers.
I can't measure worth a darn so I used another method:
Once you have the center you can start drilling.
The following is when using a drill press not a hand drill.
Cut squares of foam shelf liner and put one on the drill press bed and one inside a waterproof pan.
Install bit in chuck and tighten.
Place bowl, cup or saucer upside down in pan and line up center dot with the bit.
Fill with water then slowly, gently grind away the ceramic and glaze on the dish.
Dry with paper towels and repeat as necessary.
Step 3: PVC
The PVC pipe will carry the LEDs and slide over the threaded rod.
Measure the depth of your cup.
Cut 4 lengths of pipe approx. 1/8"- 1/4" shorter than the depth of your cup.
Step 4: LEDs
Cut 12 LED strips, 3 for each piece of pipe.
Divide pipe by thirds.
I'm no go at measuring so used this method:
Stick the strips onto the pipe so the solder tabs are near one end.
Cut clear heat shrink tubing so it covers the LEDs but NOT the solder tabs.
Heat and Shrink.
My heat gun came from the card making/embossing area of JoAnns.
Step 5: Wire the LEDs Together
Cut jumper wires to fit without covering LEDs.
Strip ends, tin with solder.
Tin tabs on LEDs, then solder wires to tabs.
Step 6: Glue Cups to Saucers
Glue cups to saucers.
Make sure the holes line up.
Step 7: Diode Circuit on Perf Board
Build the diode array on the perforated board.
Solder connections and form loops for wire connections.
----- Schematic will be added soon. -----
Step 8: Strip and Solder
Cut ribbon cable.
Strip ends and tin, then solder to switch and diode array.
Wrap threaded rod with electrical tape.
Leave ends open for hex nuts.
Step 9: Washers and Assembly
Glue 2 or 3 washers together.
Cut up to 1/3 out to make room for the ribbon cable.
File off sharp edges.
Cut ribbon cable twice as long as you think you'll need.
Attach washers with hex nut to threaded rod in the base and thread ribbon cable NEXT to rod, NOT INSIDE.
Tape ribbon cable to threaded rod at base.
Step 10: Assemble Cups and Wire
Pull up rod until tight and put a tie wrap on it to keep it in place.
Put a cup/saucer over the threaded rod AND the ribbon cable.
If it does not seat properly because of the tape or tie wrap remove them and continue.
Take one of the PVC/LED pipes and put it over the threaded pipe AND the ribbon cable into the cup.
Separate 2 of the wires, cut, strip, solder to the solder tabs.
Write down which color is common and which is plus.
Repeat as necessary.
Step 11: Wire and Testing
Install rotary switch with hex nut and washer. (Gently, don't tighten too much or the bowl may break.)
Cut end off AC adapter and strip wires.
Plug it in and determine which wire is positive and which is common.
Mark the + wire. Unplug the adapter.
Strip and twist then solder all 4 common ribbon cable wires together.
Strip and tin the 4 positive ribbon cable wires.
Plug in the AC adapter and hook up the common wire to the ribbon cable twisted common wires.
touch the positive adapter wire to each of the positive ribbon cable wires and watch the cups.
Each should light up in turn. If not, you got some fixing to do.
If it all works, unplug the AC adapter and continue.
Refer to your chart and hook up the wire colors to the appropriate diode array.
Solder adapter common to the ribbon cable and finish with heat shrink tubing.
Solder positive, red to the wiper of the rotary switch.
(terminal all by itself near the center of the switch)
Step 12: AC and Lamp Socket
Measure from light bulb socket to bowl and add a few inches.
Cut the 2 wire AC cord and strip the ends and tin them.
Fish the short wire down the pipe into the base.
Cut heat shrink and put on wires before soldering to the adapter keeping the ribbed wires together.
(Yes there is a difference in the 2 wires, look closely)
Place last saucer on the top of the last cup, add flat washer and hex nut.
Tighten, but not tooooo much or you'll crack the plate.
Add shiny neck to cover the threads and thread the wires up through the socket base.
WAIT!!!! I almost did it again!! (see pics without harp bracket)(NO, NO, NO!)
Unscrew the socket base and put the shade harp bracket on the threaded rod.
THEN the socket base. Tie a proper knot and attach the wires to the screws on the socket.
Push together firmly.
Add harp and set it up on the base.
Step 13: Plug In, Watch for Smoke
Plug it in and see if everything works.
If it does...YAY!
Stick on cable mounting squares and tie adapter to one.
Tie wrap power cord to the other.
Cut a piece of cardboard and hot glue to cover all electrics in base.
All done! Congrats.